A journalistic enterprise is either committed to the truth or it is not. The notion that a newspaper might be a fierce arbiter of the “truth” on page after page, but such diligence must of necessity be skipped when it comes to the editorial pages, the pages where column after column attempts to sift through the news of the day and interpret, for readers, the overall themes and needed next actions—that the authors on those pages are, by journalistic policy, free to treat their readers as marks—perpetuates the now long-standing conceit that “truth” is the realm of the little people and their little arguments. Rise to the level of influencer, the conceit presumes, and you need no longer confine yourself to it.
Amidst backlash and subscription cancellations for hiring extreme climate science denier, Bret Stephens, the New York Times offered a stunning defense: There are “millions of people who agree with him.”
With that ‘logic’, the Times could hire as a columnist former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke — or a flat earther or someone who thinks vaccines pose a health hazard. After all, millions agree with them.
This defense is especially absurd since, as I detailed Friday, the Times has been running a major ad campaign claiming there is no alternative to the truth — and former Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Stephens has repeatedly dismissed as “imaginary” the climate reality reported on every week by the Times’ own journalists.
But apparently the Times editorial page is not engaged in a search for the truth. Instead, it is engaged in the search for popular ideas to spread even if they are known to be false “alternative” facts.
If the writers of the editorial pages were held to the same ethical standards as those of the journalists scribbling out the stories the pundits then butcher into unrecognizable form to fit their views, there would be no problem. But they are not. Here, and only here, a man ignorant of a science can go toe-to-toe with all the world’s top experts and vanquish them neatly by his own say-so; here, the world’s historians or doctors or anyone else who has spent decades filling their brains with the collected discoveries of an entire civilization are declared to be no match for the glibly uninformed hack with a pocket thesaurus and an ideological endpoint to reach.
And despite the unfathomably dishonest effort by the Times’ editor James Bennet to portray Bret Stephens as anything but the basest sort of science-dismisser, Stephens’ own body of work proves otherwise.
Again, it all goes to the core conceit of the editorial pages: Here, and only here, facts will not be checked. Lies will be permitted; the misleading dodges of lobbyists and outright falsehoods of the important class will be printed, unscathed, under the banner of the paper of record. Under Bennet’s guidance readers will be lied to about the core facts they read in the rest of the paper; his writers are of the caste where such lies are allowed.
• An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events
• Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups
TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES • THIS WEEK’S HIGH IMPACT STORIES
TWEET OF THE DAY
Aren’t you the same guy who just yesterday was clamoring to kill prisoners? https://t.co/GAKIixcPxE
— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) April 16, 2017
BLAST FROM THE PAST
At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—Newt Gingrich bitten by penguin:
We’ve long passed the point where Newt Gingrich was, and it pains me to even reference it in the past tense, a “credible candidate” for the Republican nomination. But Newt presses on, largely unmolested by Mitt or by Ron Paul (also still running; never all that credible). What started out as book tour has in the last few months degenerated into the Newt L. Gingrich “Zoos Across America” tour. Is it because zoos are a cheap date, when you are a celebrity? Is it because zoos are one of the few places left in America where Newt can feel confident that he is, in fact, the smartest primate in the room? Is Newt conducting a nationwide search for his namesake, someone who can inherit his throne? Or is he merely interviewing potential running mates?
These and other questions are unknowable, and admittedly very stupid. The only things that can truly be gleaned from this incident is that there is at least one penguin in the world that does not like Newt Gingrich. I hold that penguin in very high regard.